MACo Supports Local Option for Staggered Elections

On February 10, 2016, MACo Executive Director, Michael Sanderson, submitted written testimony in support with amendments of HB 129, Staggered Election Terms – Charter County Councils.

The bill would amend the Maryland Constitution to allow charter counties to adopt “staggered term” elections for their Council representatives. MACo urges an amendment to expand the provisions to apply to any county seeking such an option.

Currently, the Maryland Constitution dictates that county elections be held on the same four-year cycle as the state’s gubernatorial elections. The two exceptions are a long-standing different cycle for Baltimore City, and a relatively recent move to staggered terms in Cecil County.

From MACo’s written testimony,

Staggered terms may present greater and more frequent citizen accountability for county elected officials, and may reduce the dramatic loss of institutional knowledge that sometimes accompanies across-the-board electoral change. County elected officials routinely experience 50% turnover in the gubernatorial cycle, leaving some governing bodies without any experienced members.

HB 129 does not require or even endorse the change to staggered terms, it merely creates the local option for the citizens.

For more on 2016 MACo legislation, visit the Legislative Database.